Maya Angelou

Congratulations to the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou, written down in history as the first African American woman to appear on U.S. currency.

KIM (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what can I do for you?

DR. MAYA ANGELOU (caller): You may write me down in history

KIM: I’m sorry, that’s not a service we offer. Have you tried the Library of Congress?

DR. ANGELOU: With your bitter, twisted lies

KIM: No, ma’am, I said the Library of Congress

Dorothy Parker calls the Poetry Crisis Line

ROBERT BENCHLEY (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
DOROTHY PARKER (caller): You come right over here and
BENCHLEY: We don’t do house calls.
PARKER: Explain
BENCHLEY: I can’t go there, but I can send an emergency poet–or the grammar police.
PARKER: Why they are having another year.
BENCHLEY: Would you rather be stuck in the previous one?


[from a telegram Dorothy Parker sent to Robert Benchley on December 31, 1929]

A Visit from the Recycling Truck

Concept and first couplet by Susan Young; completed by David Sklar

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house
Empty boxes and paper were strewn all about.
I stood in the living room, steeling my nerve
To take the recycling out to the curb.

The papers were scattered all over the floor,
In drifts in the corners, and one at the door.
I gazed at the carnage, admitted defeat,
Then swept like a fiend all the way to the street.

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Our pile of used wrappings had gotten so tall
That it shook when I swept, like a bowl full of jelly
(the same at our neighbors’, and their pile was smelly).

All the way up and down on both sides of the road
The mounds of bright papers looked fit to explode,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
The recycling truck! As it slowly rolled near,

There appeared to be something wrong with the suspension.
It shook as it went, like that jelly I’d mentioned.
In that gray, hazy morningtime, such was my luck
That the driver passed by without stopping the truck,

And I heard him explain as he trundled away,
The truck is all full, so I’m done for the day.”

Clement Clarke Moore calls the Poetry Crisis Line–page 4


ROSIE (counselor): I mean, nylon is very flammable. If there’s a fire–especially if the fireplace isn’t used often, like if you’ve just lit a fire for Christmas or Advent or–
CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE (caller): In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
ROSIE: Now that’s just disturbing.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Stephen Sondheim calls the Musical Theater Crisis Line

In memoriam of Stephen Sondheim. May his memory be a blessing.

GENE (counselor): Musical Theater Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
STEPHEN SONDHEIM (caller): when you’re a Jet, you’re a jet all the way
GENE: Well, they won’t let you off mid-flight.
SONDHEIM: From your first cigarette
GENE: They won’t let you smoke on board, either.
SONDHEIM: To your last dying day.
GENE: It’s just a fine. They’re not going to throw you off.

W. S. Merwin calls the Poetry Crisis Line (continued)

PATIENCE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
W.S. MERWIN (caller): Listen,
PATIENCE: That’s what I’m here for.
MERWIN: With the night falling we are saying thank you.
PATIENCE: You’re welcome. Uh…for what?
MERWIN: We are stopping on the bridges
PATIENCE: Is there traffic behind you?
MERWIN: To bow from the railings.
PATIENCE: Just don’t lean over too far, OK?
MERWIN: We are running
PATIENCE: On the railings?
MERWIN: Out of the glass rooms
PATIENCE: Please tell me you’re not throwing stones.
MERWIN: With our mouths full of food.
PATIENCE: Are you trying to make me worry?
MERWIN: To look at the sky
PATIENCE: Why? What’s happening?
PATIENCE: Please don’t tell me they’re bombing the parking lot with turkeys?